What Can We Expect From CRM Technology In 2014?

CRM Predictions

As we begin 2014, I think the CRM industry will experience significant growth and changes. Traditional CRM has expanded into the realm of social, undergone a digital transformation and cloudified itself. But what exactly can we expect from CRM technology in 2014?

In recent years a knowledge of IT has turned from an extra line on a CV to a must for almost every business professional, with the expected level of knowledge only likely to rise higher. Those who don’t have a keen understanding of technology are significantly limiting their potential.

As a result we have to ensure that as enterprise applications become increasingly sophisticated at the back end, they also become easier to use at the front end. So what does all this mean for the CRM technology market this year?

The De-Centralisation Of IT

With customers expecting more and more from the brands they use – mobile apps, online shopping, responsive web design – IT departments are rapidly losing control over technology projects and, more importantly, budget. Marketing, sales and finance are starting to commision their own apps and buying their own systems.

With this, major technology decisions on things such as projects and spending, will be in the hands of those who previously had limited interaction with technology decision making. This both a good and a bad thing for CRM as individual departments will have access to the relevant customer data, but to truly benefit companies need to ensure all systems are integrated and sharing data.

CRM Tech Is Not An Advantage, It’s A Must-Have

In the past 30 years the technology we use, both at home and in the office, has become increasingly more sophisticated, intuitive and accessible. SaaS has levelled the playing field when it comes to enterprise technology, with small companies now being able to benefit from software that was once confined to major global with deep pockets. Now CRM technology is not enough to give you the edge, you need to have the skills and training to be able to leverage the most out the data you have.

This Will Be The Year Of B2B Social

The B2C market was quick to adopt social strategies, and has been seeing the results, but B2B has always struggled to keep up. Effective B2B social strategy is yet to find its place in CRM strategy and is often dismissed as being ‘infantile’ or ‘fluffy’.

However many are finding it hard to ignore the benefits of social, which offers a powerful platform for direct interaction with customers. With ‘Social data’ on the lips of every marketing manager, this will be the year many seek to maximise the potential this data by integrating it with CRM systems to extract meaningful information to drive critical business decisions.

Large Firms Taking A New Approach

The CRM and Systems Integration consulting market has traditionally been dominated by a few global players. However in 2014, they will likely face a growing problem – huge firms mean huge data centres, huge numbers of staff and, ultimately, huge fees.

This has led to a number of SI firms trying to flavour their services as ‘startup’, but coming down to startup prices creates a risk of cannibalising the high-end of the business. This leaves a gap in the market to be filled by the smaller consultancies to compete on price and offer an independent read of the market.

Substance & Style

The last 18 months was all about making applications look amazing. Creative agencies were bought on board to create beautiful apps, often designed for a specific OS. While these creative agencies are adept at rolling out great-looking apps, they often lack the technical skills to integrate them into existing enterprise systems. With mobile becoming increasingly important, the back-end integration will become even more complex with apps being deployed across multiple platforms and connected to ERP systems.

Generally 2014 will be the year where we can truly begin to quantify the business value from projects, ROI is becoming increasingly more transparent and easy to measure. This will put pressure on CRM providers to deliver tangible and effective results. If it can be measured, then project managers can be held accountable – so make sure you are getting the most from your CRM system this year.

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Marcin Malinowski

Marcin Malinowski is Director of International Services at Outbox Group. He has many years experience as an IT consultant, specialising in data migration, system architecture, efficiency testing and improving performance of Oracle databases. He joined Outbox in 2006, prior to which he worked as a consultant at IBM and as a developer at Prosperum S.A. and Bright Side.